The best option, from Earth
Experts comment that the light needed to propel the candle will come from the surface of the Earth: a giant laser array with approximately 100 million lasers acting in unison to illuminate the candle and push it on its interstellar journey.
“To cover the vast distances between Alpha Centauri and our own solar system, we must think outside the box and forge a new form of interstellar space travel,” clarifies Chathura Bandutunga of the Applied Metrology Laboratories at the ANU Center for Gravitational Astrophysics. Light missions could be given an immensely powerful boost and left to travel alone.
“Once on its way, the sail will fly through the vacuum of space for 20 years before reaching its destination. During its flyby of Alpha Centauri, it will record images and scientific measurements that it will transmit to Earth. “
This recently presented energy matrix is accompanied, in turn, by the spacecraft, which requires gram-scale nanotechnology equipped with small sensors, thrusters, a camera and a radio antenna that would be towed by a dinghy scale of a meter measuring 4 x 4 and accelerated by the 100 gigawatt (GW) laser array. This would allow the spacecraft to reach speeds of up to 20% of the speed of light. Slightly slowed by the gravity of the Sun and the interstellar medium, the spacecraft could reach Alpha Centauri in about 22 years.
Is the atmosphere not a problem?
The adaptive optics used by telescopes to compensate for atmospheric distortion can be used in reverse, scientists say. Bandutunga says that a small laser mounted on a satellite pointed at Earth can be used to measure atmospheric effects in real time, which would allow much more powerful lasers located on the ground to adjust, keeping their focus safely on the probe. space. A) Yes, the guide satellite would be placed in the orbit of the Earth and would act as a conductor to unite all the lasers.
“The next step is to start testing some of the basic components in a controlled laboratory environment. This includes the concepts of combining small arrays to make larger arrays and atmospheric correction algorithms, ”the researchers clarify.
Alpha Centauri is home to three stars: Centauri A, Centauri B, and Proxima Centauri. Proxima Centauri is 4.2 light years from Earth and has two confirmed planets, a Jupiter-like gas giant and a rocky world called Proxima b in the habitable zone.